Oct 09 2014

Why You Can't Ignore an Unhealthy Workforce

As an employer, is it worth encouraging healthy weight loss among your employees? Or is it just a nice benefit for them?


For many employers, the real question is not whether you want your employees to be happy and healthy. We know that unhealthy workers, regardless of the specifics of their health conditions, are less productive, and a potential drain on the company.

The question is how and where to invest in the health of your company. And you can’t afford to ignore an unhealthy workforce. 

The CDC estimated the overall cost of obesity in US adults to be as high as $147 billion annually in 2008 (last year for which that data is available from the CDC). The average medical cost for someone who is obese is $1,429 a year higher than a normal weight peer.  On top of that, obesity is linked to reduced worker productivity, chronic absence from work , and a slew of other chronic health conditions that can further exacerbate the issue.

In terms of absenteeism (days missed), presenteeism (lost productivity caused by poor health), and direct medical costs, the annual cost of a normal-weight employee: $10,000. Of their obese co-worker: $16,000. And contrary to some reports, there is no evidence that the rate of growth  for those classified as overweight or obese is slowing. So if up to 30% of your workforce falls into this category, how much can you save by fostering a healthy culture? But if you’ve read this far into this blog post, you are probably looking to invest in keeping your workforce healthy, because the cost of high employee turnover (lost productivity, overworked remaining staff, recruiting and interviewing costs, training expenses) is far from a cost-effective solution.

Incorporating a worksite wellness program that is led by professionals in that field (as opposed to giving that responsibility to someone currently on your staff), is an effective way to promote a culture of wellness and give your employees a sense of empowerment and accountability for their own health.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on what you can do to help your employees and your company.
Sandy Greeson

Ergonomic Assessment Specialist, Essential Functions Evaluator, & Certifed Clinical Instructor